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Solar panels start fire at Murray Mansion event venue

Solar panels start fire at Murray Mansion event venue

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RACINE — Two rooftop solar panels started a fire Tuesday at The Covenant at Murray Mansion, a wedding and event venue at 2219 Washington Ave.

Racine firefighters responded to the call at 12:14 p.m. Business owner Kathy Meyer said afterward that she was told a police officer saw the fire and reported it.

Flames were showing at the ridge line when firefighters arrived at the large event venue — the former site of Our Savior Lutheran Church — at the corner of Washington and Taylor avenues, said Racine Fire Department Battalion Chief Paul Madden.

Photovoltaic panels create electricity and started an electrical fire. The problem in dealing with that type of fire, Madden explained, is that photovoltaic panels are always generating electricity, even on a cloudy day such as Tuesday. “There’s no way to shut them off.”

Firefighters do attack such a fire with water but must stay back a certain distance, Madden continued. In this case they used an aerial truck to spray the blaze, which also got into the trusses.

The fire was under control within about 45 minutes, Madden said.

The building was vacant when firefighters arrived, and there were no injuries. Damage was later estimated at $6,000.

Contractors, an electrician and the company that installed the solar panels about 12 years ago began arriving shortly after firefighters began rolling up the hoses, Meyer said.

There was some water inside the building, but it didn’t reach or damage any walls, she said.

No events are scheduled there until early next week, and Meyer said the fire will not disrupt business.


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